Just how challenging is it to find qualified, caring individuals to fill those high-demand home health care spots today? Very, according to one agency supervisor OneMissouri recently spoke with. Her agency serves multiple counties in the St. Louis Metro area, and she is constantly looking to hire new workers. One reason is due to expansion, but another is because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find individuals who are a good fit for the demands of the job.
Even though the agency’s starting salary is in the double digits, experienced workers can make more money working in assisted living and nursing homes. On the other hand, the supervisor noted that younger workers often lack important dispositions, ethics and social skills necessary when caring for patients in their homes: “I need caring, compassionate workers who can be trusted to work unsupervised in clients’ homes. I need workers who come to work on time and aren’t frequently absent. And I need workers who will put down their phones and focus on their patients.”
Home Health Care: A Surprising Look at the Numbers
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) most healthcare professionals such as physicians, physical therapists, and pharmacists who have an earned doctoral degree earn more in Missouri than they do nationally. Particularly noteworthy however, is that those with only a high school diploma (home health aides, veterinary assistants, pharmacy technicians, and opticians) earn more in the Show-Me State than they do nationally as shown in the chart below:
Home Health Care Demand Projections
Based on the OOH data, all specialty areas that require only a high school education should expect to earn more in Missouri than in most other states. Demand for these jobs is expected to grow by leaps and bounds by 2026, particularly for home health care workers:
- Home Health Aides: +41% (1,208,800 more jobs)
- Veterinary Assistant: +19% (16,300 more jobs)
- Pharmacy Technician: +12% (47,600 more jobs)
- Optician: +15% (11,600 more jobs)
Building a Home Health Care Workforce
As our state’s population ages, the need for home health care workers will become even more important. That means the time to start building a workforce to meet future demand is now. OneMissouri recommends:
School District Partnerships
One approach might be for home health care agencies to partner with local school districts to develop a health occupations strand within the curriculum beginning at the elementary level. In addition to healthcare-related content, modules could include important dispositions and ethical skills that are essential to success in healthcare professions. As students reach middle school, they could have the option of gaining some introductory exposure to healthcare professions, including home healthcare. Then, a health occupations class at the high school level could contain a supervised internship at the junior or senior level. Graduates could earn a certificate of completion based on a successful internship. A successful internship could be a viable jumping off point for a job upon high school graduation.
Community College Partnerships
Home health care agencies should partner with local community colleges in their region to explore partnerships. Numerous Healthcare Professions and Workforce Development programs are emerging. Agency representatives could provide valuable insight by serving on advisory boards. Both partners could benefit from structured field experience and clinical placement agreements. Home health care agencies should even consider providing scholarship money for students who demonstrate particular promise for success in the field.
Active Community Involvement
Agencies should work closely with local chambers of commerce and civic groups. It’s important to keep members of the Rotary Club International, Kiwanis, Lions Club, and the like updated about activities and the need for high-quality home health care employees. Members of those groups often have large networking circles who can help identify potential workers.
One Missouri is committed to research, education, advocacy, and policy development on behalf of all Missourians.
Top Photo Credit: www.torontoalliance.ca